The Colts shocked the NFL world Wednesday when they traded a first-round pick in 2014 to the Browns for running back Trent Richardson. And they're going to waste little time in showing off their new toy.
Colts coach Chuck Pagano said Richardson will play in Week 3 at San Francisco despite little practice time or preparation to learn the new playbook. The Colts plan to give Richardson "as much as he can handle," according to Pagano.
"We didn't bring him in to be the water boy," Pagano said.
We like that Pagano is being bullish about Richardson, but you have to be a little skeptical about his workload against the 49ers. He didn't arrive in Indianapolis until Thursday and the Colts should already have a game plan in place featuring Ahmad Bradshaw and Donald Brown.
It won't be difficult for Richardson to learn the rushing plays, but it's doubtful the Colts will trust him to protect Andrew Luck in passing situations. Bradshaw will probably remain on the field when the Colts are throwing and Indianapolis could be playing from behind against a motivated 49ers team coming off an embarrassing loss to Seattle.
It's also a tough matchup against the 49ers defense, so you should be cautious with Richardson this week. He should be considered a flex option at best depending on your roster -- his best days definitely lie ahead.
The move to Indianapolis should allow Richardson to be a top 10 Fantasy running back after a slow start. Through two games, Richardson has struggled with just 31 carries for 105 yards and seven catches for 51 yards. Those numbers should skyrocket, starting in Week 4 at Jacksonville when Richardson will be up to speed with his new team.
The trade obviously crushed Bradshaw's Fantasy value, and you shouldn't start him against the 49ers. Just when things were starting to look up after Vick Ballard (knee) went down, Bradshaw is now relegated to reserve duty behind Richardson. He will still play a role, but he's not going to start for Fantasy owners any time soon.
We wouldn't cut Bradshaw just yet because Richardson has struggled with injuries to start his career. Even though he missed just one game as a rookie in 2012, he's already had knee surgery, played through broken ribs and dealt with a shin injury this preseason.
If there's someone out there you need and Bradshaw is the only one to drop then do it, but don't discard him on a whim. He could still be the third-down back for the Colts, which would give him some value in PPR leagues.
One move we would condone is dropping Bradshaw for Willis McGahee, who will replace Richardson in Cleveland. You'd be getting a starter for a reserve -- even if McGahee's outlook is murky with the Browns.
The last time we saw McGahee was Week 11 last year for the Broncos when he broke his leg. Prior to going down, McGahee had 167 carries for 731 yards and four touchdowns and 26 catches for 221 yards, and he had at least eight Fantasy points in five of the nine full games he appeared in. The Broncos decided to cut him this offseason after drafting rookie Montee Ball.
McGahee only got a recent tryout with the Giants after Week 1 and his best days are clearly behind him. He'll be 32 in October, but CBS Sports NFL Insider Jason LaCanfora reported in August that McGahee was in "great shape."
He could end up paying off for Fantasy owners as a potential flex option, but don't go overboard in trying to acquire him in most standard leagues. He's not going to save your season, especially if Richardson struggles for the Browns.
The earliest we'll likely see McGahee is Week 4 against the Bengals since he's not expected to play in Week 3 at Minnesota. Even if he does you shouldn't consider using him in the majority of leagues.
In the meantime, look for the Browns to go with Bobby Rainey and Chris Ogbonnaya against the Vikings. So far this season, Ogbonnaya has no carries and three catches for 34 yards. He was a reserve in 2012 with eight carries for 30 yards and 24 catches for 187 yards. But in 2011, Ogbonnaya started four games and finished the season with 73 carries for 334 yards and a touchdown and 23 catches for 165 yards. Rainey, who spent 2012 on the practice squad for the Ravens, has yet to touch the ball this year or in the NFL.
Rainey will likely handle rushing duties with Ogbonnaya playing on passing downs. Since Cleveland will likely be trailing at Minnesota, we give Ogbonnaya the edge this week. Long-term, these two running backs have minimal value unless McGahee gets hurt.